The game is six degrees of Canadian history. Take two seemingly unrelated pieces of Canadian culture and connect the dots through various people, places and events to discover how they’re distantly — or maybe not-so-distantly — related. Along the way, we visit the quizzical and curious, the tragic and comic, and everything in between.
An astronaut is an individual involved in flight beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. Since the Canadian Space Agency held its first recruitment campaign in 1983, 14 Canadians have completed astronaut training and eight have participated in 16 missions to space. Specifically, they have flown as payload specialists, mission specialists, and flight engineers on NASA shuttle flights and expeditions to the International Space Station (ISS). Canadian astronauts have played key roles in repairing satellites and building the ISS using the Canadarm and Canadarm2 robotic technologies, and have advanced scientific knowledge by conducting a variety of experiments in space.
George Lawson, botanist (b at Logan, Scot 12 Oct 1827; d at Halifax 10 Nov 1895). Lawson studied natural and physical sciences at the University of Edinburgh. Assistant secretary and curator for the Botanical Society of Edinburgh, he also worked in Britain's first biological laboratory.
Titus Smith, naturalist, surveyor, traveller, agriculturist (b at Granby, Mass 4 Sept 1768; d at Dutch Village near Halifax 4 Jan 1850). To his innate interest in all natural studies, Smith brought a mind well schooled in botany and a keen interest in the conservation of animal and plant life.
Bernhard Adolf Hantzsch, explorer, ornithologist (d near the mouth of Hantzsch R, NWT June 1911). Hantzsch sailed with a German ornithological expedition to the eastern Arctic in 1906 and during that summer explored and collected specimens along the coast of Ungava Bay and northern Labrador.
Louise de Kiriline Lawrence (née Flach), nurse, author, ornithologist (born 30 January 1896 in Sweden; died 27 April 1992 in North Bay, ON). Swedish Canadian Louise de Kiriline Lawrence was a Red Cross nurse in Europe during the First World War. She and her Russian husband, Gleb Nikoleyevich Kirilin, were captured by Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War and interned in concentration camps; only Louise survived. In the 1920s she immigrated to Canada as part of a Red Cross initiative in the North. A pioneer of health care in Northern Ontario, she was head nurse for the Dionne Quintuplets from 1934 to 1935. Following her retirement from nursing, she became the award-winning author of seven books and hundreds of scientific papers and a world-class ornithologist. She married Canadian Leonard Lawrence in 1939.
Margaret Anne Wilson Thompson, human geneticist (born at Northwich, England 7 January 1920, died 3 November 2014 in Toronto, ON). She obtained a BA in 1943 from the University of Saskatchewan and a PhD in 1948 from the University of Toronto, where she studied under the pioneering human geneticist Norma Ford Walker.
Victor John Harding, professor of pathological chemistry (b in Eng 23 Oct 1885; d at Toronto 3 July 1934). Graduating in chemistry from Owen's College, Manchester (DSc, 1912), Harding began an association with McGill in 1910. He became associate professor of physiological chemistry in 1917.
Hardolph Wasteneys, professor of biochemistry (b at Richmond, Eng Apr 1881; d at Toronto 1 Feb 1965). As a boy Wasteneys went to Australia and found employment in government laboratories dealing with water purification. He moved to California about 1909 to study this subject further.
Robert William Stewart, scientist (born at Smoky Lake, Alta 21 Aug 1923; died at Victoria, BC, 19 January 2005). Robert Stewart was known internationally for original work in turbulence, oceanography and meteorology, and was a recognized authority on exchange processes between ocean and atmosphere.
Julie Payette, CC, CMM, COM, CQ, CD, astronaut, engineer, jet pilot, musician (born 20 October 1963 in Montréal, QC). Payette participated in two space flights to the International Space Station, STS-96 (1999) and STS-127 (2009), and served as the chief astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency from 2000 to 2007. In 1999, she became the first Canadian to board the International Space Station. An accomplished scientific authority, musician and athlete, Payette is a board member of Own the Podium and a member of the Canadian Olympic Committee’s board of directors. In July 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Payette will become Canada’s 29th governor general, succeeding David Johnston. Payette became Governor General on 2 October 2017.
Steven Glenwood MacLean, FRCGS, physicist, astronaut (born 14 December 1954 in Ottawa, ON). Steve MacLean was among the first astronauts recruited in Canada and in 1992 became the third Canadian to fly in space. On his second mission to space (2006), he became the first Canadian to operate the Canadarm2 robotic arm and the second to complete a spacewalk, after Chris Hadfield. He has also contributed to the country’s space programs as director general of the Canadian Astronaut Program (1994–96) and president of the Canadian Space Agency (2008–13).
Andrew John Weaver, OBC, FRSC, leader of the BC Green Party 2015–present, climate scientist (born 16 November 1961 in Victoria, BC). Andrew Weaver is a leading climate change researcher who has made historic gains for the Green Party of British Columbia in his second career as a politician. In 2013, he was elected the province’s first Green MLA. In 2017, he led the Greens to three seats. After the 2017 election, he engineered a power-sharing deal with the BC New Democratic Party and toppled the Liberal government of Christy Clark to help John Horgan become premier.